There’s nothing more fun than imagining, as a child, that you and your best friend are actually related. For these lifelong pals, though, that childhood dream actually came true—they just didn’t know it for most of their lives.
In Hawaii, Walter Macfarlane met Alan Robinson in the sixth grade through school.
The pair were 15 months apart, but fast became friends. Both had unique home situations—Robinson had been adopted as an infant, while Macfarlane only knew his mother—and through their similarities, the pair developed a friendship that spanned decades.
Long after they first met, both men finally grew sick of wondering about their biological families.
Although they didn’t tell one another, both signed up for Ancestry.com, a family tree website that helps people track down relatives using historical databases and DNA tests.
Macfarlane had been frustrated with his searches using social media and other attempts to find family members. But when he took the DNA test provided by the website, he found another user on the site who shared his genetic XX chromosomes.
“So then we started digging into all the matches he started getting,” explained his daughter, Cindy Macfarlane-Flores, talking about the family’s journey to discovering who that first match was.
Of all the matches on the site, that one was the “top” one—meaning it had the closest genetic similarity to him.
That meant the pair shared a birth mother. Excited, Macfarlane looked at the username—and immediately realized who the other person was.
His long-lost brother used a username of Robi737, which Macfarlane found easy to decipher. Robinson was a pilot, and had flown 737 planes prior to his retirement—and with the “Robi” nickname he’d grown up with, Macfarlane was able to put two and two together.
The pair were absolutely floored.
“It was an overwhelming experience,” admitted Robinson, who certainly wasn’t expecting that news from Macfarlane six decades after they first met.
“It’s still overwhelming. I don’t know how long it’s going to take for me to get over this feeling.”
They revealed their discovery to family and friends at a holiday party this December, but still haven’t gotten quite used to the idea. After 60 years of friendship, having no idea that they were related, the pair are having to adjust to the realization that they’ve been biological brothers all along.
They have plans to take advantage of the epiphany, and they’re expecting to travel around the world together as family members now that they know.